вторник, 30 марта 2010 г.

понедельник, 29 марта 2010 г.

Two blasts in Moscow Metro

Two explosions have rocked the Moscow Metro this morning, claiming dozens of dead and injured.

The first explosion happened in a carriage at the central Lubyanka underground station at 07:56, informs RIA Novosti news agency.

The second blast happened at the Park Kultury Metro station also in a carriage of a train at 08:39.

Russia's Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika has officially announced that 37 people died in the two terrorist acts this morning.

RIA Novosti / Vladimir Fedorenko, STF

Russian news agency Interfax quoted an unnamed source in Russian law enforcement structures as saying that the attacks were carried out by female suicide members. The source said that this conclusion can be drawn from the type of damage inflicted upon the exploded Metro carriages. Preliminary reports say that body fragments of the attackers have already been found, the source added.

According to Russia’s Emergency Ministry, the first explosion presumably happened in the second carriage of a Metro train stopped at the Lubyanka station in the very center of Moscow, only several hundred meters from the Kremlin. At 9:30 am Moscow time, the Emergencies Ministry gave the number of casualties as 20 to 25 killed and 17 wounded on Lubyanka station, and 12 to 15 killed and over 20 wounded at Park Kultury station.

Rescuers and police are working at both scenes.

The explosions happened during rush hour. Both Lubyanka and Park Kultury stations are very busy interchange stations, with many people there at any given time, particularly on Monday morning.

According to preliminary data, the explosions were carried out by suicide bombers with about four kilograms of TNT at Lubyanka station and two kilos of TNT at Park Kultury Metro station, informed Moscow’s Prosecutor General.

Meanwhile, all train services have been suspended on the Moscow Metro system for the time being, with security services on high alert.

Mobile telephone networks in Moscow are overloaded.

A criminal investigation into a terrorist act has been initiated.

Lubyanka station (image from CCTV)


четверг, 25 марта 2010 г.

Cossacks of the Napoleonic Wars-Cossacks' generals.

During Platov's visit in England he was enthusiastically
greeted by the Londoners. He was awarded a golden sword
and ... a honorary degree by the University of Oxford.

The most famous Cossack commander was Ataman Matvei Platov (1757-1818).
Platov begun service in the Don Cossack Chancellery in 1766, becoming an esaul in 1769. He distinguished himself in the 1771 Crimean campaign, and was promoted to command of a Cossack regiment in 1772. Between 1774 and 1784 he fought against the Crimean Tatars in 1774 and in 1782 under Suvorov in the Kuban Valley, Chechnya and Dagestan.

Upon Alexander I's ascension to the throne, he was appointed Ataman (Headman) of the Don Cossacks. In 1805, Platov ordered the Cossack capital to be moved from Staro-cherkassk (Old Cherkassk) to a new location, known as Novo-cherkassk (New Cherkassk). Platov distinguished himself in 1806-7, 1812 and 1813 in the campaigns against the French. Platov scourged the French during their retreat from Moscow in 1812, and again after their defeat at Leipzig.

During his visit in England he was enthusiastically greeted by the Londoners. Platov was awarded a golden sword and a honorary degree by the University of Oxford. A full-length portrait was painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence for the Waterloo Chamber created at Windsor Castle by George IV, then Prince Regent.

General ChernyshevAlexandr Ivanovich Chernyshev (1785-1857) was a famous Cossack raider. He entered the army at the age of 15, and advanced rapidly through the ranks, participating in all of Russia's campaigns against Napoleon. During the period 1807–1812 Tzar Alexander sent Chernyshev to Napoleon to serve as a channel of communications. Napoleon took a liking to Chernyshev. In 1812 Chernyshev was promoted to general-major, and in 1814 to general-lieutenant. Chernyshev was not well-known in Europe but in Russia in that time he was very popular. In 1812 Chernyshev's aggressive pursuit and hit and run tactics demoralised the French.

In 1813 and 1814 his raids very deep into enemy territory were quite spectacular. Chernyshev's Cossacks raided Kassel, the capital of Westphaly. After being driven out of Kassel, King Jйrфme Bonaparte, Napoleon's brother, managed to return on the 16th of October, before deciding to seek refuge in France on learning of the result of the battle of Leipzig. (In 1815 at Waterloo, Jerome's division attacked Hougoumont.)

In 1819, Chernyshev became a member of the committee Tzar Alexander established to reform the organization and legal structures of the Don Cossack host.

Nikolai Vasilievich Illovaiski (1772-1828) was another talented Cossack commander. Nikolai Mozhak writes: "He was enlisted to the military service in the age of 6 as a private cossack. In the age of 8 he took part in his first military expedition to the Crimea for suppressing the Crimea Tatars that supported Turks." Illovaiski participated in campaigns against the Turks, Poles and the French. In 1813 after the Battle of Bautzen he left the army, his health was failing, and went back to the Don.


среда, 24 марта 2010 г.

Ural Malachite

Few Russian gems are considered to be undoubtedly better than their foreign analogues. Few gems have their own patron. It is widely known that the best malachite was produced in the Urals.

Malachite was first found in hoary antiquity in the south of Iran, where King Solomon’s Mines were situated, as a legend says. However, the richest in colour and patterns was the Ural malachite, known the world over. The stone has various tints of green: from light green with bluish to dark green, almost black. Reniform formation of the mineral creates amazingly intricate inimitable patterns on its cuts and polished surfaces, demonstrating the unsurpassable beauty of nature. Because of this tracery the Ural malachite was called “the peacock stone” in Old Russia. The name of the mineral derives from the Greek name of mallow, the leaves of which have the colour similar to malachite. Quite often malachite was found together with blue lazurite; the coalescences of the two minerals are very beautiful.

In order to see the splendid articles of the famous Ural malachite one should go to a museum and the best choice will be the Hermitage Museum, which boasts a whole malachite hall. The biggest malachite item can be found in the St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg – the columns of the altar there reach the height of almost 10 meters. Practically in any museum palace one can find articles made of malachite of the 19th century. These are table tops, fireplaces, vases, caskets, candelabra and various decorations made of this beautiful green stone with fanciful yet natural tracery.

Малахитовая гостиная
«Малахитовая гостиная» на Яндекс.Фотках

Hermitage Museum

Внутри Исаакиевского собора
«Внутри Исаакиевского собора» на Яндекс.Фотках

The huge antiques seem to be made of enormous malachite boulders, but that is an illusion. The method of making them is called “Russian mosaics”. The item itself was made of some other material, such as, for example, marble or metal, above which thin blades of malachite were pasted. It was very difficult: one had to saw a piece of malachite perpendicularly to its schistose structure into blades not thicker than 1 mm, then put these fragments together in such a way to create a single pattern, and afterwards rub the junctions with a special mastic to conceal them. What made it still more difficult was that the surface of the articles was not always flat.

Ural malachite masters were peerless in their craftsmanship. How hard their work was, in what conditions they worked and what a price they paid for their mastery, loosing their health!

The heyday of Russian malachite fell on the early and mid 19th century, when the biggest deposits - Gmeshevskoe and Mednorudnyanskoye - were discovered in the Ural Mountains. The biggest piece of malachite weighed about 250 tons! Tons of Ural malachite started to be mined, it was widely used as facing material, and considerable amount of malachite stones was exported. The debris of malachite was used for production of malachite green paint, with which roofs of houses in the Ural were often painted in that period.

European masters used malachite in a way different from Russians; partly that was because of their thriftier attitude to the expensive material. The green stone was used in Florentine mosaics, where the patterns were made up of various minerals: blue lazurite, red jasper, marble and granite.

Malachite was processed in various ways: it was faceted, cut to make stamps and decorate silverware, tea sets, etc. Unfortunately it was used on such a great scale and mined so devouringly, that its deposits were soon depleted. That was the sad real story, parallel to the fanciful folk legends inspired by the magnetic green stone and put down by the famous Ural writer Pavel Bazhov in his Malachite Casket.

There are not many malachite occurrences in the world now, and the minerals mined there are not as beautiful as Ural malachite. Presently the major provider of malachite is Zaire. From the early 19th century attempts were made in different countries to reproduce the natural process of malachite generation. Only in the second half of the 20th century Petersburg scientists developed the unique technology of growing natural malachite. Experts prove that this synthesized malachite is a total analogue to the natural malachite, similar in chemistry, structure, and other physical qualities.

Modern items of malachite are modest in size as compared to the luxury of the past centuries. These are mainly jewels: earrings, pendants, bracelets, rings, brooches and necklaces. Looking at these enchanting pieces one cannot help recalling the Mistress of the Copper Mountain, a mythic patron of malachite riches.


воскресенье, 21 марта 2010 г.

The Amur

Посмотреть на Яндекс.Фотках

The Amur is one of the largest rivers of North-Eastern Asia, which was formed by the confluence of the rivers Shilka and Argun. For 2824 kilometers this truly powerful river with its tributaries: Zeya, Bureya, Ussuri, Sungari carries its waters all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The Amur weaves its way across the territory of three states – Russia, China and Mongolia. The Chinese call it “River of the Black Dragon”, the Mongols – “Black water”.

Амурские закаты
«Амурские закаты» на Яндекс.Фотках

Russians started reclaiming the territories of the Amur river basin in the first half of the 17th century. The largest town of the Far East – Khabarovsk – was named after one of the trailblazers, Yerofei Khabarov.

The nature of the Amur river basin is very contrasting. Siberian landscapes alternate with maritime ones. Siberia asserts its presence with bitter frosts, permafrost, and the larch tree that dominates the northern woods. The maritime landscape is noted for summer showers, turbulent rivers, Korean cedar, Amur grapes, Amur cork tree, Manchurian hazel and Chinese magnolia vine. The flora and fauna of the Amur river basin is remarkably diverse, with over 130 species of freshwater fish, among which the largest sturgeon in the world, the kaluga, is endemic to the Amur. Individual specimens of this fish weigh over a ton.

Там, где Амур
«Там, где Амур» на Яндекс.Фотках

Branching out into several distributaries, the Amur forms a multitude of flood-plain lakes which attract fish-eating birds and waterfowl. Among them – red-throated and black-throated loons, the brant, seagull, great cormorant and others. For ability to swallow large fish whole, the great cormorant is dubbed “big live fishrod”. In China these birds are still used for fishing.

One of the most beautiful ducks inhabiting the Amur region is the mandarin duck. Back at the outset of the 20th century this species was widespread all along the Amur river. However, as lands were reclaimed and tall-trunk trees and oak groves were shopped down, the species dwindled in number. The fact is, the mandarin duck makes its nest in tree hollows at a height of 15-20 meters, and feeds on acorns. Presently, the species has been entered in the Red Book of Endangered Species.

One could speak at length of the fauna of the Amur river area. This is a place one can encounter a great many rare animals, who are in the Red Book of Endangered Species, such as the Amur tiger — the largest of all the felines, the Far East soft-shelled turtle – a reptile boasting ancient heritage. The species has remained unchanged since the Mesozoic era.

Then there is also the raccoon dog, an omnivorous animal of the dog family, a clumsy beast with thick fur, which is noted for its complete defenselessness in the face of danger: instead of running away, the raccoon dog hunkers down and feigns death, thus becoming easy prey for predators and forest fires. “Neatnik” is how they call the badger – an awkward-moving predator with pointed muzzle and rough thick coat, who is noted for remarkable orderliness. In autumn the badger, having amassed body fat, goes into hibernation. Presently, the badger is hunted for meat and curative fat, which is used as a remedy for cold-related diseases and tuberculosis.

Around 2 ,000 plant species grow in the Amur river area. The Komarov lotus is called a natural wonder – the Amur region the northernmost place in the world where this water-lily is found.

Alas, the unique Nature of the Amur, unpartitioned by dams in its main channel, is presently endangered. The Amur basin plains are heavily populated. On the territory of China, some 100 million people live along the rivers Sungari and Ussuri.

The Amur is a boundary river. On the left, northern bank – the Russian population is very inconsiderable, while on its right bank the Chinese population is very dense. There are a great number of plants that pollute the waters of the Amur river basin,” says Victor Danilov-Danilyan, Director of the Institute of Water Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“Man’s impact on the eco-system of the river increases with every year, which has already resulted in a decline in water-marshy territories, the habitat of rare bird species, and stocks of fish resources. Construction of the hydroelectric stations on the rivers Zeya and Bureya, as well as several large dams on the river Sungari in China have upset the hydrological regime of the Amur. So the problems of the Amur need to be addressed jointly in the nearest future.

Source:The Voice of Russia

пятница, 19 марта 2010 г.

"Finist the Bright Falcon"(with Bilibin's illustrations)

Once upon a time, there was a merchant who lived alone with his three daughters in a small village in Russia. The eldest, Malvina, a powerfully built young woman with fiery red hair and a temper to match, tended to bully her younger sisters. If she did not get her own way, she would shout, scream, and a lot more besides, until she did.

The second eldest, Elvira, was a thin, dark haired girl and rather sulky at times. She often felt bullied by Malvina, but was afraid to stand up to her and usually ended up doing whatever Malvina wanted. However, she had her own little methods of paying back Malvina for her bullying.

The two were known in the village as "the Belles from hell."

Raisa, the youngest, was a quiet girl, with a long straw coloured plait, (her sisters called it 'mousy') who spent a lot of time on her own, since the others considered her 'too young' to be included in their doings.

read more.

Famous russian painter and illustrator- Ivan Bilibin

Boris Kustodiyev. Portrait of the Painter Ivan Bilibin. 1901. Oil on canvas. The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Most of us take a rather provincial view of Illustration and Art History. We see a fairly circumscribed set of styles and movements that can be traced fairly linearly from The Pre-Raphaelites, through the Romantics and the Orientalists, with a few detours through Vienna and Berlin, but quickly getting back on track with the great English and French illustrators and moving directly across the Atlantic to the Brandywine and beyond. The Impressionists, the Symbolists, and the Arts Nouveau and Deco are interesting side-trips that add some scenery to the journey, but the world and the World of Illustration was and is a lot broader and more varied than we've been seeing.

Ivan Bilibin - Vassilisa the Beautiful

Ivan Bilibin(1876-1942) was a Russian artist, born in St. Petersburg, somewhat isolated from the associations with traditional Russian art found so strongly among the art community in Moscow. His first inspirations came from Russian folk and fairy tales. After seeing an exhibition by Victor Vasnetsov (of whom I know precisely nothing) in 1899 which included images and scenes from folk lore and opera, he was drawn to the remoteness of the wildernesses of Old Russia that gave rise to the legends. His watercolors from this trip were seen and admired by the "Department for the Production of State Documents" and he was commissioned to illustrate a series of books of fairy tales.

These books, including The Tale of Ivan the Tsar's Son, The Firebird and the Grey Wolf, The Frog Princess, The Feather of Finist the Falcon, Maria Morevna, The Little White Duck, and Vassilisa the Beautiful, propelled the young Bilibin headlong into a career of illustration, set and costume design, teaching and mural painting.

Bilibin's approach to these tales was guided by a strong sense of place. The forests and mountains of Old Russia were predominant players in images that often provided as many distractions as focal points. He seemed anxious to incorporate traditional designs and motifs, often as framing devices for illustrations that didn't require them. Yet his solid depiction of the terrain and costumes made his work recognizable and appealing, despite his youthful miscues. And, most importantly, his ability to bring a sense of reality to a world of ghosts and glowing skulls reinforced the notion that these stories might really have happened and certainly heightened their appeal.

These books, with their identical covers, were still in print as recently as 1976 (now why doesn't that sound so recent anymore?) and are oft-requested items. The titles in the center of the cover were the only modifications to a common design that was easily recognizable. The interior drawings showed his increasing skills as both an artist and a storyteller. These images from Vassilisa the Beautiful are some of his earliest work from 1899. They're remarkably mature for a 24-year-old and hint at the Art Nouveau influences he relished.

Ivan Bilibin - The Little White Duck

By 1902, in The Little White Duck, these influences were incorporated into the borders and the foliage of the image as seen in the image at right.

During and after the fairy tale series, Bilibin worked a lot in pen and ink for magazines, book covers, and The Tale of the Golden Cockerel a reprise of the folk story in a combination of pen, ink and watercolor (see below). Several other folk and fairy tale projects were begun over the coming years. He never really escaped from his early reputation. He considered the mixture of fantasy, folk lore and historical and geographical authenticity to be his milieu and seldom ventured very far from it.

Ivan Bilibin - Golden Cockerel

His style became more formal and he applied his vision to the sets and costumes of a series of operas, including The Golden Cockerel (1909), Askold's Grave (1912), Ruslan and Ludmila (1913), Sadko (1913,14) and others. His reputation as a fantasist and his association with Old Russian imagery served him well in this new career, as did his many visits to the Crimea where he found continued inspiration and flavor for his art.

Night on the Shores of Lake Ilmen - set for scene two of Sadko
Ivan Bilibin - Sadko

Ivan Bilibin - Father Frost

He left Russia in 1920 for Egypt, where he set up a studio and lived until 1925. He moved to Paris for the opening of the World Exhibition. He had a one man show in Prague in 1926 and helped stage an exhibition of Russian artists in Paris in 1927. He was, by now, an accomplished and sought-after stage designer and helped stage numerous ballets and operas in Paris, which had its own "Russian Opera Season." Finally in 1931 he returned to the illustration of Russian and Oriental fairy tales for a Parisian publisher. At left is an image from Father Frost (1932) and at right is one from The Lay of Tsar Ivan Vassilyevich, His Young Oprichnik and the Stouthearted Merchant Kasashnikov from 1938.

Ivan Bilibin - Kiev and the Russian Bogatyrs

He returned to Russia in 1936 where he died in February of 1942. He was in Leningrad during the German blockade. He left several unfinished projects, many of which can be partially seen in Sergei Golynets' Ivan Bilibin co-published by Aurora and Abrams in 1982. One project was the illustrations for The Tale of the Capital City of Kiev and of the Russian Bogatyrs that he was working on during the last few years of his life. As can be seen at right, his design strengths were still present and the trademark historically accurate accoutrements were everywhere.

It's worth looking up now and again from our, dare I say it again, provincial, boundaries to examine the whole world of illustration. Though Bilibin's work was not widely available in America until the 1976 reprints by Goznak, it was received with respect and appreciation. Golynets' book about him gave us even more to enjoy and to marvel at. Today he's an artist with a growing following.



четверг, 18 марта 2010 г.

Cossacks of the Napoleonic Wars

These organised bandits are wily. They do not like infantry fire very much
they detest artillery, but when they are three to one they become impudent
- Schwarzenberg, Austrian commander-in-chief

"Cossacks are the best light troops among all that exist."
- Napoleon Bonaparte

"If Napoleon had had Cossacks in his army
he'd have been Emperor of China long ago
- Cossack officer to Caulaincourt in 1812

Cossacks in early spring 1813, by Wojciech Kossak.
On the ground are corpses of French soldiers and horses.


"The Cossacks Watched
While the Russians Slept

The name Cossack is derived from the Turkic word quzzaq and mean simply "adventurer" and "freeman". This name has been shared by several groups throughout the history of Europe and Asia. The most prominent and numerous are the Russian Cossacks of the Don, Ural and Siberia regions. Also famous were the Ukrainian Cossacks who lived on the southern steppes of modern Ukraine. They grew astronomically during the 15th-17th centuries due to numerous runway peasants from Russia and Poland respectively. Cossacks paid no taxes and enjoyed a large measure of autonomy in the management of their communal affairs.

Janet Hartley writes: "Cossacks are not a separate ethnic group (although they were designated as such in the Soviet period); they comprise mainly Russian and Ukrainian peasants and fugitives who had fled to the southern borderlands. They nevertheless regarded themselves as a separate group within the Russian empire, with separate institutional and social structure, who owed a loyalty to their Cossack host as well ass to the Russian tsar. The 18th and the early 19th century saw the transformation of CCossack communities from active resistors to central tsarist authority to loyal servitors of the state, but this did not mean that they had lost their sense of separate identity or thheir distrust of Russian officials and grandees." (Charles Esdaile - "Popular Resistance in the French Wars" p186)

Cossacks played a key role in the expansion of the Russian Empire into Siberia, the Caucasus and Asia. They also served as guides to most Russian expeditions formed by civil geographers, traders, explorers and surveyors. In 1648 the Russian Cossack Simeon Dezhnev opened a passage between America and Asia.

The Cossacks fought numerous wars with the Poles, Russians, Turks and Tartars. In the XVI century, with the dominance of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth extending south, the Cossacks were regarded by the Poles as their subjects. Registered Cossacks were a part of the Commonwealth army until 1699. In the XVI century, to protect the borderland area from Tatar invasions, Cossacks carried out sentry and patrol duties, observing Tatars and nomads of the Horde in the steppe region.

Cossacks started raiding Ottoman territories and merchant port cities. By 1615 and 1625, Cossacks had even managed to raze townships on the outskirts of Istanbul, forcing the Ottoman Sultan to flee his palace ! In about the same time the Tartars, Turks' allies, were raiding Poland and Lithuania. Treaties between the Poles and Turks called for both parties to keep the Cossacks and Tatars in check. In internal agreements, forced by the Polish side, Cossacks agreed to burn their boats and stop raiding. However, boats could be rebuilt quickly, and the Cossack lifestyle glorified raids and booty.
Cossack numbers expanded with peasants running from serfdom in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Attempts by the Polish nobles to turn the warmongering Cossacks into serfs eroded the Cossacks' once strong loyalty towards the Commonwealth. Cossack ambitions to be recognised as equal to the Poles were constantly rebuffed, and plans for transforming the Polish-Lithuanian Two-Nations Commonwealth into Three Nations made no progress. Tensions increased when Poland's policies turned from tolerance to suppression of the Orthodox church, making the Cossacks strongly anti-Catholic and anti-Polish. It resulted in several Cossack uprisings against the Poles.

The relations of Cossacks with Russia were varied, at times this involved combined military operations, and at others there were Cossack uprisings. One particular example was the destruction of the Zaporozhian Host, which took place at the end of the XVIII century. Nevertheless by the XIX century, Russia managed to fully annex all the control over the Cossacks.

The tactics used by the Cossacks in XVI-XVII century was very different from that used during the Napoleonic Wars. The Cossacks used boats for long range raiding against the Turks, and wagon forts in the field against the Poles. The open and flat land of Ukraine did not limit wagons' manouverability. Western Europe just did not contain these steppe like areas. The slowly moving wagon forts link (ext. link) were defended with Cossack infantry and few light guns. The wagon fort could have 3 or more defensive walls made of wagons.

French: Rйponse des Cosaques au Sultan. German: Die Kosaken schreiben dem Sultan einen Brief. Picture: Cossacks writing incredibly insulting reply to Turkish Sultan's
demand for surrender. They laugh their socks off over each word.
Picture by Illia Repin. Cossacks' letter to the mighty sultan is a document having a literary origin which was taken up in folk culture (XVI-XVII century)

Cossacks to the Turkish Sultan !
Thou Turkish Satan, ... Greetings !
What the devil kind of knight art thou that
cannot slay a hedgehog with your naked arse ?
The devil shits, and your army eats.
Thou a son of a bitch wilt not ever make subjects of Christian sons ...
Thou art the Babylonian scullion,
Macedonian wheelwright,
brewer of Jerusalem,
goat-fucker of Alexandria,
swineherd of Greater and Lesser Egypt,
... So the Cossacks declare, you lowlife. ...
The date we write not for no calendar have we got;
the moon is in the sky, the year is in a book, and
the day is the same with us here as with thee over there,
and thou canst kiss us thou knowest where !

During the Napoleonic Wars the Cossacks participated in numerous campaigns and battles. In late 1790s they went with Suvorov to Italy and Switzerland. In 1805 they took part in the disastrous Austerlitz Campaign. In 1806 and 1807 the Cossacks were in Eastern Prussia with Bennigsen's army. There were several Cossack regiments fighting against the Swedes and Turks in 1808, 1809 and 1810. In 1812 and 1813 the Cossacks, portrayed by some as Satan’s bastard offspring, were constant menace for the Frenchmen, Germans, Poles and Italians. The relentless pursuit by the Russian light troops and Cossacks, the winter and the tsar's and people's determination resulted in a truly disastrous defeat on Napoleon.
Napoleon's Grand Army (Grande Armee) ceased to be grand, it even ceased to be an army !
Fewer than 100 000 of the 500 000 that Napoleon had used for the invasion returned west.

In 1814 the dreaded Cossacks entered Paris. They were received with the best foods but they preferred to cook their own meals. The beautiful houses, palaces and courts, and the products of luxury which they encountered in Paris did not tempt them. In the beginning the Parisians were scared of the the unique troops. Russian and Cossack officers gathered in certain restaurannts and hammered on the tables yelling bistro ! which is Russian word for "quickly". Hence the name bistro for this type of restaurant. The no-nonsense tough warriors bivouacked in the square of the Carousel before his majesty's windows, and dried their shirts and trousers on the iron railings of the palace. They also camped out on the famous Champs Elysees.

The Cossacks were again in Paris in 1815. A large group of Cossacks was despatched to find the Prussians and English armies advancing on Paris and they were the first Allies' troops who marched through Paris very shortly after Waterloo.

Uniforms of Cossacks of the Napoleonic Wars.
Left: Don Cossack and Bug Cossack
Center: Ural Cossack
Right: Ukrainian Cossack
Picture by Oleg Parkhaiev.

to be continued


среда, 17 марта 2010 г.

Siberia: Paris

PARIS – village in the Chelyabinsk region. Most inhabitants of the village belong to the Paris rare ethnic group – nagaybaks. Nagaybaks – they are descendants of Tatars, baptized in the times of Ivan the Terrible. Empress Anna Ioannovna after nagaybaki during riots Bashkir maintain its fidelity, identified them in the Cossack class. The first Cossack nagaybaks ataman was appointed Vasily Suvorov, the father of the famous Russian commander Alexander Suvorov.

In the war against Napoleon nagaybaks Cossacks were a separate regiment. Returning from the trip from Europe after the victory over Napoleon, they are for their valour and heroism received the exclusive right to call its settlements in honor of their own deeds and victories. Thus came the name of the village of Paris, like other villages in South Ural, which are the names of European cities - Berlin, Leipzig and so on. These settlements have names in honor of the major victories of Russian troops in Italy, Germany and France in 1799 and 1813-1814 he was.

Nagaybaks unique folklore, researchers are exploring their song culture. In Holland released CD-ROM, which recorded songs residents of the village of Paris. Folklore nagaybaks ensembles – awardees many international competitions folk groups.

June 24, 2005 in the village of Paris was inaugurated cellular communications tower, completed in the form of a reduced copy of the Eiffel Tower. December 11, 2006 in France at the Eiffel Tower was the most shortest in history exhibition, which lasted one minute (present Russian brands), the highlight of the event was a teleconference with the «Eiffel tower» Ural Paris.


вторник, 16 марта 2010 г.


Prepared by Tatiana Shvetsova

In I890s the book called "The Old Moscow" was put out in Russia and became a bestseller. The book was written by Mikhail Pylyayev, a staff writer for St.Petersburg’s newspaper The New Time. It was a story about the mode of life, customs and recreation of Muscovites in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The book is undoubtedly remarkable and it certainly attracted our attention.

We offer an adapted part from the book which carries us to the end of the 18th century and features the coronation ceremony of Russian Empress Catherine the Great.

Moscow has gone through many joyful and difficult days during the rule of Catherine the Great. It was a joy when she ceremoniously arrived in the city for coronation on September 13, 1762.

Moscow streets were decorated with lines of cut fur-trees. At street corners and in squares, arches were curled with plants and various sculptures were inside them. Dwelling houses were decorated with multi-colored fabrics and carpets, and several triumphal gates were made for her arrival

Catherine the Great was moving in a carriage decorated with gold, which was followed by a suite all dressed in garments with embroideries in gold thread on them. People were shouting greetings.

The coronation ceremony took place on Sunday. It was raining, but people began flocking to the Kremlin the day before the ceremony. There was a cannon salvo at 5 o'clock in the morning on the day of coronation.

All persons who were to attend the ceremony began to arrive at the Kremlin Palace right after the salvo. Troops stood in lines in the Kremlin Cathedral Square at 8 o'clock in the morning. Sounds of trumpets and kettle-drum were heard at 10 о’сlock.

Right after the salvoes the whole procession moved to the place of coronation at the Assumption Cathedral in the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, after she got prepared in her private rooms for the sacraments of anointing and communion, Catherine the Great entered a large audience chamber. All regalia for her as the Empress of Russia had been brought there too. They were on the tables on both sides of the throne.

When all state officials gathered, the Empress sat on the throne under a canopy. Meanwhile, her confessor began to besprinkle with holy water her upcoming road.

As soon as Catherine appeared on the front steps of the palace, all church bells began to ring and cannons fired.

When the Empress approached the entrance to the Assumption Cathedral, she was met there by a high clergy — more than 60 bishops and archimandrites were headed by the archbishop who offered the Cross for the Empress to kiss. The Metropolitan of Moscow besprinkled the Empress with holy water and she occupied the throne.

She was in a scarlet garment of a monarch and also had the Order of St.Andrew pinned on her breast. It was the highest and the first Russian order introduced in 1698 by Peter the Great in honor of the Holy patron of the Russian state. This star-shaped order decorated with pearls and diamonds was shining on the Empress’ garment. When she was putting the crown on her head, cannons gave salvoes.

After the ceremony all court’s officials offered their congratulations to the newly coronated Empress. Her departure from the cathedral was as ceremonious as her arrival.

Troops greeted Catherine the Great with cannon salvoes while she was moving to the Kremlin’s Archangel Cathedral to give a bow to her deceased ancestors, and, afterwards, to the Annunciation Cathedral to put her mouth to the relics of the Russian holy persons buried there.

When in the audience chamber again, Catherine the Great sat under the canopy and granted various favors to many persons. After that she moved to a luncheon to be given in the Faceted Chamber of the Kremlin.

Singers and musicians were invited to perform during the luncheon.

Tired by the ceremony, Catherine the Great returned to her private rooms. There were no solemn functions on that day any longer. But how festive was Moscow with lights of illumination!

At midnight the newly-coronated Empress appeared on the front steps of her palace to admire the illumination. According to an eye-witness, Moscow was shining with fireworks all night through. Various shields were illuminated at the triumphal gates. One of the shields had an imitation of a flower which looked like the sun, and a mountain beneath with an inscription: “I will be seen by all people.” Another gate had a sword with an inscription “The law rules and the sword defends.” Still another gate had a hawk which carried lightning shafts and the inscription said: “Her Majesty's protection”… Magnificent fireworks took place across the Moskva River, opposite the Kremlin.

On the sixth day after the coronation, Catherine the Great ruled to have festivities for common people. The festivities were held in Red Square and at the site of execution called Lobnoye Mesto.

Various carriages decorated with gold moved along the streets on that day. Fried oxen, cooked game and freshly baked bread were heaped on them. These carriages were followed by carts with golden barrels full of mead and beer beverages.

There were many tables with various meals in Red Square. Fountains were sprinkling with red and white wine. At crossroads of the main streets there were tables where the poor were treated with meals and beverages.

Tents were set up near the Kremlin. They were decorated with many-colored flags. People were given cakes and sweets there. At other places acrobats, conjurers and Persian rope walkers were performing.

Catherine the Great, accompanied by a large suite, was moving in а carriage along Moscow streets admiring the festivities. Meanwhile, heralds were throwing silver coins to people.

The festivities in Moscow continued for a week. Later the Empress went to the Holy Trinity St. Sergius Monastery near Moscow. She was welcomed by the sounds of church bells and singing.

After she visited the monastery's churches and put her mouth to the relics of dead saints, Catherine the Great heard wishes for long years of her rule.

On her way to the private rooms prepared for her in the monastery, the Empress heard continuous cannon salvoes and sounds оf church bells.

The clergy of the St Sergius Trinity Monastery greeted the newly-coronated Empress of Russia and wished a happy rule for her. After she saw the monastery inside and outside and got acquainted with its inhabitants, Catherine the Great went to Moscow also accompanied by cannons’ salvoes and sounds of church bells.

After the coronation, Catherine the Great, contrary to expectations, did not leave Moscow for St.Petersburg, but spent a whole winter there.

Moscow of those days witnessed unprecedented festivities and fancy-dress balls whose luxury seemed majestic like in a fairy tale.

For example the first large fancy-dress ball was given late in February. It was called the Triumphant Minerva, who, as is known from the Roman Mythology, is the goddess of warriors and wisdom and the patroness of the arts and crafts. Those who organized the ball associated Catherine the Great with the name of this goddess. A printed poster announcing the ball said that it “will reveal the bad of the evil and the good of the merits”. The ball continued in central streets of Moscow for three days from 10 o'clock in the morning till late at night. Over four thousand people took part in it.

Despite the cold autumn, people were looking out of the windows and standing on balconies and on the roofs of houses. The Empress was looking at the festivities moving along the streets in a carriage which was decorated with gold and driven by eight Neapolitan horses with colored cockades on their heads. The Empress wore a Russian national costume made of velvet and decorated with pearls, and a diamond diadem was shining on her head. Her carriage was followed by a long cavalcade of carriages carrying the suite.

On the first day of this remarkable fancy-dress ball, an Italian opera was staged for the Empress and the court.

For Fyodor Volkov, a famous Russian actor and the ball organizer, the ball was fatal. Riding astride to control the order during the festivities, he caught cold and died two months later.

During the first few years of Catherine the Great's rule, several new buildings were erected in Moscow. One of them was church in Solyanka Street in the city center built to mark her coronation. The church still has "the place for the Empress" which was specially made for Catherine the Great.

During the first year of her stay in Moscow, the Empress ordered the opening of an orphanage for children from poor families. It was the first ever orphanage in Moscow.

Later, a hospital was built in honor of the recovery of Pavel, the heir to the throne.

Two years after the coronation, Catherine the Great ordered a construction in Moscow of a second orphanage for children of poor families and a boarding house for their parents. The orphanage and the boarding house as one structure was built on April 21, 1764.

Significantly, on the day of laying the foundation for the building over fifty poor brides were given dowries and given in marriage to craftsmen, and later, over one thousand poor people were given a lunch on that day to mark the charity of the Empress. In memory of the house’s foundation a special medal was minted.

In 1771, famous industrialist Prokofy Demidov financed the foundation of a maternity house near the boarding house and the orphanage. He donated 200,000 rubles, a fabulous sum of money for those times.

Source:The Voice of Russia

вторник, 9 марта 2010 г.

Moscow-Vladivostok: virtual journey on Google Maps

The great Trans Siberian Railway, the pride of Russia, goes across two continents, 12 regions and 87 cities. The joint project of Google and the Russian Railways lets you take a trip along the famous route and see Baikal, Khekhtsirsky range, Barguzin mountains, Yenisei river and many other picturesque places of Russia without leaving your house. During the trip, you can enjoy Russian classic literature, brilliant images and fascinating stories about the most attractive sites on the route. Let's go!


понедельник, 1 марта 2010 г.

Great russian composer - Mikael Tariverdiev

MIKAEL TARIVERDIEV - everybody in Russia knows the name. It is mostly known in conection with film music, especially with two cult films: Seventeen Moments of Spring and Fate's Irony. But apart from music scores for 132 films Mikael Tariverdiev is the author of chamber vocal cycles, of four ballets, of four operas, of a number of pieces of organ and instrumental music. Student of Aram Khachaturyan ( he graduated from Gnesin Institute, composition class, in 1957), he made his debut as composer when the famed chamber singer Zara Dolukhanova sang his vocal pieces at Moscow Conservatoire Big Hall. Boris Pokrovsky's Chamber Music Theatre started its life with Mikael Tariverdiev's opera Who Are You? His comic opera Count Cagliostro, first produced by this famous theatre in December 1983, has become a mainstay of its repertory and has been presented by the theatre in all its foreign tours.

In the last decade Mikael Tariverdiev concentrated on istrumental music. He composed three organ concerts (Cassandra, Cahier Polyphonic, Third Concert), Ten Chorale Preludes In Imitation of Old Masters, organ symphony Chernobyl prompted by the impressions of his trip to Chernobyl soon after the catastrophy.Among his later pieces there are two concerts for violine and orchestra and the Romantic Style Concert for Viola and String Orchestra composed on the request of the wellkown musician Yury Bashmet.

Mikael Tariverdiev combines two seemingly incompatible traits. His music is always recognizable by the very first bars, recognizable irrespective of its genre - be it film music, theatre, opera or vocal, it invariably bears the imprint of his unique intonation, it has got a face of its own. But as a composer he kept changing, kept searching for new approaches, kept pursuing new aims. In the sixties, after the roaring success of the romances presented by Zara Dolukhanova, refined pieces, exquisite like drawings in Indian ink, he proclaimed the "third direction".What was it, what was its philosophy? A challenge to academism on the one hand and to the triteness of mass culture on the other. But when the third direction is joined by the others becoming popular he reverts to academic genres, but unlike those who are getting bogged down in the maze of avantgarde, Tariverdiev goes for the classical comic opera, for baroque polyphonic organ concert. He fills this music with modern sensibilities, with freshness of feeling again and again bridging the gap between the present day and the past, moulding fragmented music directions into a whole the name of which is just music.

Mikael Tariverdiev won 18 international prizes, among them American Music Academy's award (1975),Japan's recording company Victor's award (1978), three Nika awards for the best film scores of the year (1991, 1994 and 1997). He has been awarded the State prize of the USSR (1977),Lenin Konsomol prize(1977), the title of People's artist of Russia (1986). He headed the Composers' Guild of Cinematographers' Union since its inception, he was the Art Director of New Names - International Charity Programme.

Melody from "Night Fun"

The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath! (Russian: Ирония судьбы, или С лёгким паром!; Ironiya sudby, ili S lyogkim parom!) is a Soviet comedy-drama directed by Eldar Ryazanov as a made-for-TV movie. The screenplay was written by Emil Braginsky and Ryazanov, loosely based on Ryazanov's 1971 play Once on New Year's Eve (Russian: Однажды в новогоднюю ночь). The movie was filmed in 1975 at Mosfilm. Simultaneously a screwball comedy and a love story tinged with sadness, the film is traditionally broadcast in Russia and some other former Soviet republics every New Year's Eve[1]. It is as fondly viewed every year as the American film It’s a Wonderful Life is during the Christmas holidays. Many memorable quotes from the film have become catch phrases in the Russian language.

The term "Irony of Fate" refers to Fate toying with the lives of mortals. The second title, "S lyogkim parom!" (literally something like "With the light steam!") is an idiomatic expression used to compliment somebody who has just come out of the shower, the banya, or the bathtub ("lyogkiy par" translates to "light steam" or "easy steam").

The score to the film was composed by Mikael Tariverdiev, and includes both orchestral background music and songs in the style of the "author's song" movement, sung by several of the characters. The strikingly melancholy lyrics of the songs were written by some of Russia's greatest twentieth-century poets: Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetayeva, Bella Akhmadulina. The singing voices of the characters were dubbed by the (now well-known) vocalists Sergey Nikitin and Alla Pugacheva.

"I bless you". Lyrics by Marina Tsvetaeva

"Don't part with your loved ones". Lyrics by Alexander Kochetkov